Get out of the Dollhouse, Find Glee!


Remember earlier this year when I was writing indignant screeds about how VILE Dollhouse was? I complained about the names, the stupidity of Topher Brink (the Dollhouse's putative "genius"), the sexualized violence against women that the show trafficked in.

And then the show ended and I forgot about it.

Last weekend I was visiting Hulu, and an ad for Dollhouse popped up--seems Season II has gone and started and I forgot to pay attention to the buildup. But hey, it was the weekend, and I had a sandwich to eat, so I figured, what the hell, I'll watch the first ep of the new season.

And it bored me.

Now, as I have written in relation to True Blood, I can watch something that is JUST boring, but if something is boring on top of being annoying, pretentious, pompous, unbelievable, unrealistic AND really super busy, then I have a hard time watching.

There is so much going on in this stupid show, but not in a good way. Echo is SUCH an amazing presence, according to the show's own mythos, that she can be A) a doll who has to go back to the Dollhouse and get checked up repeatedly, AND B) an undercover federal agent who has an apartment, a life, a partner, and an agenda that involves bringing down a super-duper HOT arms smuggler whose specialty is dirty bombs, and C) so seductive and alluring that in a few short months she convinces said arms smuggler to propose to her and marry her in a lavish ceremony with killer catering and lots of guests? (Aside: Which dolls were used to served as the family and friends of this particular persona? I'd supply the persona's name, but I can't remember it for the life of me, not on top of the other two names Eliza Dushku already has in this show, and besides, the individual personas don't really matter; they just disappear into the TV void.)

Anyway. Adding to the unrealistic, unbelievable nature of the show is the fact that this long-term assignment for Echo is paid for by Agent Ballard, who now works for the Dollhouse. Wow! The Dollhouse must pay its employees well, if they can afford to hire the entire establishment for a massive project.

I should note that there are still people who love this show. The reviewer at Salon thinks it's great. She mentions an exchange from the Season II opener, between the doctor played by Amy Acker (whose name I also can't remember--oh, wait--apparently it's Claire) and head of security Boyd something, and writes glowingly about it:

"Dollhouse" is back and, for the record, it remains a feisty, smart, dynamic, strange, thoughtful, provocative and, yes, deeply disturbing drama in its second season. In fact, I can't think of another drama that I think is half as exciting this fall, save for that one about nefarious reptilian aliens dressed up as friendly TV spokesmodels coming in November. Just take a gander at this fine exchange between Boyd Langton (Harry Lennix) and Dr. Claire Saunders (Amy Acker), in which Boyd suddenly shows interest in Claire's welfare in the wake of her discovery that she was once a doll. You really have to marvel at the way that Joss Whedon and Co. open up big questions in the most casual of scenes:

Claire: So should I interpret this new concern as pity, curiosity, deviant excitement? There's no judging in the dollhouse!

Boyd: You seem to be having a hard time.

Claire: My entire existence was constructed by a sociopath in a sweater vest. What do you suggest I do?

Boyd: Have dinner with me. I think you should get out of you for a while. And I'd be glad of the company.

Claire: I don't go out. I'm afraid to leave this place. I have a problem with crowds, with people and sunlight, open spaces, noise, pets. (snidely) For some reason I'm just built that way.

Boyd: Every person I know is pretty poorly constructed. Everyone has an excuse for not dealing. But eventually, that's all they are, excuses.

Claire: What's yours?

Mmm, so much tasty darkness to dissect in ye olde dollhouse, and so little time! How about the other great scene, where Topher (Fran Kranz) and (a suddenly enraged) Claire can't seem to decide whether to make out or destroy each other. Doesn't Topher sound just like a parent when he tells Claire, "I made you question, I made you fight for your beliefs. I didn't make you hate me. You chose to."

My reaction to that scene was very different: eye-rolling and a tired sigh. Oooh, I thought, this is Joss trying to say something IMPORTANT. But it didn't sound IMPORTANT. It sounded PRETENTIOUS.

And there are just so many damn characters! it has moved from being an ensemble show to being a game of musical chairs. That might be one of the hooks to get people to watch: Tune in and see who will land a speaking role this week! I admit I watched the second episode, just to see if it would be something that worked me into a lather of outrage instead of leaving me cold. But it was boring too. And there was no sign of Boyd or Amy Acker (who isn't a character to me right now; she's Amy Acker saying lines that don't add up to a character) but Alexis Denisof (Wesley from Buffy and Angel) showed up as a particularly wooden, nasaly public servant. There was also something about lactation and glands and a baby and a park bench.

All of which is to say, Yawn. Oh, and ick. I toyed with the idea of writing a paper about how dreadful this show was, which I could do when it around my interest by arousing my outrage. But now it doesn't arouse either. It feels like the show has settled in for the long haul, that after working up to this big revelation at the end of Season I, and being renewed for a second season, everyone is buckling down to the serious work of saying something serious. Watching it feels like driving from San Diego to LA: there's a lot going on, plenty of stuff vying for your attention, but it's NOT FUN. There's so much going on, in fact, that details get lost, and it all becomes a blur of activity, a boring, fatiguing blur--except for those moments when someone dies up ahead so everyone else has to stop and reflect on the transient nature of life and the meaning of identity, as well as they can when they hope things get moving again so that they don't completely miss this obligation they're driving to.

I was going to take some time to tell you why you should watch Glee if you haven't already started, but this is long so I'll save the reasons for later. In the meantime, just trust me on this: if you have not already watched all five episodes of Glee that have already aired, DO SO IMMEDIATELY. Especially the pilot. It will disappear from Hulu on Wednesday, and you don't want to miss it. Go watch it RIGHT NOW.


I'm still watching, and I'm actually okay with the show, but...yeah, it's kind of boring. I like it enough to keep watching it, but probably only because I have Whedon loyalty (not that you do or don't - I'm just saying that's the tipping factor for me on whether or not to watch). I don't look forward to it, and I mostly forget about it until it shows up in my hulu queue. Everyone has some missteps, and I'm okay with that, but I REALLY wish Joss would just scrap this and get on to doing something that makes me excited about his work again.

As for Glee - YES, YES, and OH YES. My favorite show to come along in a LOOONG time.

I REALLY wish Joss would just scrap this and get on to doing something that makes me excited about his work again.

Yeah! I wouldn't have such strong feelings about this if it weren't from Joss, because I had high expectations that were not met. And OK, he wanted to do something different. Fine. But it's not working all that well. No one seems to have any fun on it. Even Season 7 of Buffy, which was pretty damn painful, had moments were SOMEONE--usually Andrew, but occasionally Faith or Robin or Spike--seemed to be having fun. None of the actors on Dollhouse seem to enjoy their job. That should be a sign.

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on October 4, 2009 7:17 AM.

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